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Reviews: Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 - Fischer

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Reviews: 5

Site review by Polly Nomial October 4, 2005
Performance:   Sonics:    
The text for this review has been moved to the new site. You can read it here:

http://www.HRAudio.net/showmusic.php?title=2651#reviews

Review by akiralx December 13, 2004 (19 of 20 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
First of all, after discussions here about misleading SACD multichannel packaging, well done to Channel Classics for clearly marking this as a 5.0 SACD on the cover. So a centre channel but no subwoofer in use.

Fair enough, and soundwise this is a truly remarkable multichannel SACD: at least as good as the recent (and excellent) Chailly Mahler 9 from Decca. The clarity and weight of the brass and warmth of the strings are wonderful, and the use of the rear channels is ideal: perfect ambient sound with no instruments looming weirdly out of the mix.

The presence of the pizzicato strings in the Scherzo is uncanny, while the lower brass have tremendous weight and power without ever overwhelming the winds or strings. As fine an SACD sound as I have heard, aided by wonderful orchestral playing. As one other site has said, if there is a company making better SACDs than Channel Classics, I have yet to hear them. This is perhaps finer than the wonderful Budapest/Fischer Dvorak SACD.

The performances are also excellent; I rather overdosed on Szell's famous LSO performance of the symphony a few years ago, and recently have only really listened to the First and Fifth for pleasure; but this reading is remarkably fresh as well as powerful. Fischer has inserted a couple of minuscule pauses into the opening fanfare rather than playing it as one phrase, but his interpretation is uncontroversial, just very idiomatic with an ideal combination of Tchaikovskian passion and exemplary instrumental execution from his superb orchestra.

The Romeo and Juliet concentrates more on drama and incisive attack rather than dwelling lovingly on the romantic aspects, so if you want to luxuriate then other readings may suit you more: I like Sinopoli's DG recording coupled with his fine Pathetique. Fischer certainly is urgent in this work: his performance comes in at under 19 minutes whereas most take over 21, and perhaps he could have relaxed a touch more for the love music, especially on its reappearance. But there are more than enough compensations: the high drama of the work is thrillingly handled and the closing pages are truly tragic with more than a hint of nobility.

Strongly recommended!

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Review by thepilot December 27, 2004 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I totally agree with the previous review. This is Tchaikovsky conducting of real stature and both the symphony and Romeo and Juliet unfold naturally and dramatically, while the recording does perfect justice to Fischer's splendid view of the works and to the wonderful playing and tone colour of this fine orchestra. More from this source please Channel Classics (perhaps a Fischer Tchaikovsky Manfred?)

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Review by mwagner1962 February 15, 2005 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I bought this SACD today (my first ever Channel Classics SACD and certainly NOT my last) and was extremely impressed with the sound and the performance!!

However, there is something just a touch on the strange side with Maestro Fischer's interpretation....there are some unusual and unexpected pauses in the opening fanfare. These very brief breaks remind me of the uber funny "Viennese" hiccup done so often in the waltzes from the Strauss family.

Despite these strange breaks, I love the performance, the playing, and a special cheer for Maestro Fischer letting the brass setion play like a brass section....some very special kudos for the horn section and the string section for the pizzicato work in the 3rd mvt!!!

I now cannot wait to hear more future Channel Classics with Ivan Fischer (does anyone know why he left Phillips to record with Channel???) and I also look forward to hearing those recording he did for Phillips!!!

HIGHLY recommended!!!

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Review by Edvin May 23, 2006 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I don´t often get angry when I´m listening to music but this version of the old warhorse makes me want to brake things or hit somebody. I find it an utterly frustrating listen.

First of all, the opening fanfare. It is so damn ugly I don´t know whether to laugh or scream. Fischer tries to do it again near the end of the movement but doesn´t really succeed. There is a hint of the "hickup" however.

The movement proper is quite uneventful and, compared to Gatti, pretty lame. Ivan Fischer is everywhere, in every bar and on top of every note. This is surely the most micro-managed recording I have ever heard and he is out-rattleing Rattle by miles.

What do we want from the opening tune of the slow movement? To me it symbolises simplicity and innocence and should thus be played straight but with affection and love. Fischer indulges in disrupting slowings and is not able to let the poor oboist play in a natural fashion. What follows makes my heart sink, I dislike how Fischer´s phrasing so often stands in the way of a natural flow.

The scherzo is light and balletic, not my cup of tea, and the finale is better with some energy and forward momentum at last. But Fischer is still not even close to the wonders of Gatti. The sound is quite good without being remarkable - that triangle in the last pages sounds like an anvil.

Romeo...no thanks. This is diet Tchaikovsky. IMO.

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